Wedding Day

Wedding Day
Enjoy EVERY moment in your wedding gown. You can't stay in it forever...SO UNFAIR!!!!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Stealing - The Monkey Meme

Today we ripped this meme off a blogger and blog named Monkey In a Suit. He explains that he ripped it off from Average Jane. But, it was probably stolen there as well. So, of course, that will be as far as we go. Tracing back our theft's thieves might take some time. Link back to us at Sunday Stealing!

Cheers to all us thieves!

Sunday Stealing: The Monkey's Meme

1. Name one person who made you smile today:
It isn't that I am just trying to mush it up or anything, but the last person to make me smile was my husband. The dude just kills me. He is absolutely one of the funniest guys I have ever met. Except when he tells me to turn down my snarkometer. I cannot help my snarkiness, and it isn't my fault really that so many people out there give my snarkometer extra juice.

2. What were you doing at 8am this morning?
Oh I was in bed, baby. I get up at 5am to take thyroid medication and then I JUMP back into bed. I can't have any iron or calcium for four hours. In other words, I may as well sleep. :) So I do. Plus, I have really been coming up with some crazy dreams lately.

3. What were you doing 45 minutes ago?
I was reading some music reviews online. Nothing spectacular, but I plan to be doing something extremely amazing in about 45 minutes. Don't you WISH you asked about that, because my friend, I am telling you it will be LEGENDARY.

4. What is your favorite candy bar?
I like Snickers bars and I like them frozen. I like them frozen because my mom passed along this crazy dissection eating process that is too embarrassing for words. Seriously, I look like a freak when I eat a Snickers bar. What do I do? I first eat all the chocolate off the sides. I follow that by eating the top layer and bottom layer of chocolate. After this, I pretty much chew off what they refer to as "pea nutty nougat." Finally I indulge in the caramely peanut thingy left over. Gross Right? I end up a sticky mess. Snicker bars and sunflower seeds in the shell have to be eaten when I am alone, because I am not going to endear myself to anyone. Anyway if it is frozen, I simply enjoy it as is without the cannibalistic dissection. So basically it has to be frozen or I look like a freak.

5. Have you ever been to a strip club?

6. What was the last thing you had to drink?
I just finished a bottle of very tame water. I realized I hadn't drank enough today so I am catching up which will definitely bum out my husband tonight when I crawl in and out of bed all night.

7. What was the last thing you ate?
A fudge brownie with white and dark chocolate ice cream. My husband made it for me. Well, I made the brownies last night. He hooked me up with the total treat. :)

8. The last sporting event you watched?
I am a huge fan of UFC MMA, and I will watch it at every opportunity. The last time I watched it was Wednesday night. I was watching UFC Fight House. It is the USA against the UK. Do you count that as a sporting event?

9. Do you go to church every Sunday?
I haven't found a church here that I really want to attend yet. I am trying, but so far, not so much. We have checked out a lot, but have not found just one yet.

10. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza?
I haven't tried Chinese food over pizza yet. I am sure it couldn't be all bad, because I do enjoy a Hawaiian pizza. I also love BBQ chicken pizza. OOOOH! If you mean do I like it more than pizza it all depends on where I get it. I haven't really found a good Chinese eatery in Arizona yet. I have found a great pizza place though. It is called Chi Town Pizza and their sauce is incredible! So for now, I guess I'll have to go for the pizza over the Chinese food for now.

11. What are you doing tomorrow?
Enjoying a wonderful Monday off. I will read and help my son with his summer school work.

12. What do you think of when you hear Australia?
Well...I didn't really think for long. I thought of Hugh Jackman. Am I supposed to think of him? Is he Australian? I also think of Hugh Jackman when I hear the word tasty. I don't know why.

13. Biggest annoyance right now?
The pressure for constant brilliance. Actually my cat is driving me nuts. She keeps bumping my leg. She has food in her bowl, but she is a snob about freshness. She is basically telling me to empty out her bowl and give her something fresh. Sometimes she is such a knob. YES KNOB.

14. Last song listened to? Don't Stop Me Now

15. Do you have a maid service clean your house?
If I had the extra money to pay a maid service, I would not waste it on a maid service. :)

16. Are you jealous of anyone?

Nope. I am married to the love of my life, I have a wonderful 14-year-old son who is funny and charming and only moderately acting like a teenaged nightmare, I have a pretty killer job at a radio station, and I have a nice if not large house. I have everything I need. Jealousy just doesn't make sense.

17. Is anyone jealous of you?

Like you don't know. ;)

18. What do you usually do during the day?

It all depends on where I am and what time it is. If I am at work, I am usually busy until I get out. At home I spend time reading, hanging out with my son, making dinner, texting little notes to my husband, exercising, and day dreaming of going on a nice vacation to a tropic island. :)

19. Do you hate anyone that you know right now?


20. Are you thinking about someone right now?

Actually no. I even stopped for a minute to see if a face would pop into my mind at the word "hate." No one showed. :)

Thank you for playing this week on Sunday Stealing! Please leave a comment or link when you have posted. Feel free to stop back and visit other player’s posts. Have a great week. See you next Sunday!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday 9 -- Uninvited

Saturday 9: Uninvited

1. Do you mind people to show up uninvited?

Not at all. My husband might not like it though unless we just cleaned the house. :)

2. Last person you talked to on the phone?
My mom. We were talking about her coming over for a visit.

3. Last person on your missed call list?
My husband. He kids me that I screen his calls now that I have him. ;)

4. Who calls you the most?

My husband. It is nice to just get a quick "I love you" from him.

5. What is your favorite song about breaking up?

Bang, Bang Your Dead by Dirty Pretty Things. I love this song no matter what the situation. :)

6. If someone sent you an unexpected gift, what would you like it to be?
A Wii. That is it. Plain and simple. :)

7. Your classic rock station plays the top songs of all time. What is number one?
Instant Karma. My total fave!

8. Do you live for today or tomorrow?
I live for today. That should cover making the right choices for tomorrow. :)

9. What movie villain scared you as a kid?

Oh yeah...terrifying. That was kind of fun. :) Check it out at Saturday 9

Friday, May 29, 2009

Review -- Who Made You a Princess by Shelley Adina (An All About Us Novel)


My Review: I absolutely love the All About Us series. It has everything I would have just foamed at the mouth over as a teenaged girl. There is plenty of girl talk, cute boys, and stories with conflict but still a fun light read. The thing that I love about it most is the friendships. It is nice to see Gillian, Carly, Lissa, and Shanni support each other through their various ups and downs. That is what friends are for, and it is always good to see those kinds of positive role models in a book for teens. Of course you have to have a bad guy here and there too, because let's face it even if this series primarily takes place in a boarding school...we are talking high school aged students and all the fun and agony they can bring. This is what also allows it to be true to life.

This book focuses on Shanni who heads back to school after a sunny summer with her friends and a month of hanging around with her friend Lissa's buddies Kaz and Danyel. Shanni is definitely crushing on Danyel, and the last month of the summer ends too fast. Back at school she has senior year to focus on, and her mom informs her that a playmate from her childhood will be attending Spencer and she hopes Shanni will go out of her way to be friendly. Her playmate is a prince, and Shanni's parents have plans that Shanni has not been let in on.

Shanni has a lot to think about. Rashid is a great guy though totally spoiled by living the life of a prince. He is very attractive and pursues her intensely. Danyel is six hours away. He likes Shanni, but his faith is important and he certainly wants to take his time. Shanni is a girl who never had a boyfriend before and now she has more than she can handle. Something has to give and someone has to be let go.

What I liked: Everything...really. Well, as I said, I really enjoyed the solid friendships in the story. I am also really glad that Mac was brought back. I loved her in Be Strong & Curvaceous. She is a strong voice and I look forward to the next book in the series as it will focus on her. I liked that the book showed Shanni's gradual move to prayer. It has been nice seeing her grow in developing faith. I also always like reading about lovely clothes. Great descriptions! The only thing I thought was odd was with all the name dropping of designer shoes, dresses and seemed odd that Shanni's dad wore Polo. I know...silly, but it just struck me odd. :)

This is a wonderful series for teens. I enjoyed it a great deal. It is definitely a series that I would not worry about picking up for my neices, who have read all of them so far. :)

How Bout Some Giveaways?

You know we all love a good giveaway. Well, maybe I am making a huge assumption. Either way...I LOVE a good giveaway, and there are always tons all over the internet. Here are a few you might want a shot at. :)

Bookin' with Bingo has had a lot of giveaways going on, and I am sure many of you have jumped on this one. Well, I have been sick so I have to catch up, but...just in case you haven't seen it check out this: Five books in a Mother's Day Giveaway or Five books in an Asian Heritage Giveaway. Can you believe it? You have until 6pm EST on May 31. :)

Bookin' with Bingo also has several other great giveaways that you might be interested in. Enter one or enter them all, but here is a quick link up. :)

A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore - Oh one look at the cover and you'll be hooked. Ends June 6

Mr. Poppers Penguins Audio Book - By Richard and Florence AtwaterRead by Nick Sullivan - I'm not entering this one, but you might want to. This is a classic!!!! Enter by 8am EST May 30

Mating Rituals of the North American Wasp by Lauren Lipton - Got to get my preppy on for this one! I have heard great things about this one, and I am crossing my fingers!

All of Me by Lori Wilde - I won this book at another site and I was sooooo thrilled. You can win too! Giveaway ends May 30.

Obama's Blackberry - By Kasper Hausner - This should be an interesting read. But can you imagine Bill Clinton's Blackberry? Giveaway Ends May 31

Like I have a lot of giveaways just at Bookin' With Bingo!

Literary Escapism also has a great giveaway of Shane Briant's Worst Nightmares! This looks great, but you better hurry! The giveaway ends on midnight June 2.

Literary Escapism is also hosting another Asian Heritage Month giveaway with 5 books! Five GREAT books. Up for grabs: Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee, Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunée, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer Lee, Transparency by Frances Hwang, Strangers from a Different Shore by Ronald Takaki. Giveaway Ends May 31.

Sea of Books is also hosting a Mother's Day Book giveaway. I know we are all foaming at the mouth for these books! Miracles of Motherhood by June Cotner, Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter, Mommy Grace by Sheila Schuller Coleman, Beginner's Greek by James Collins, and The Road Home by Rose Tremain. Ends May 31

Who Made You a Princess? by Shelley Adina

My Review will be up when I get out of work. Please come back for it. This book is AWESOME. Seriously this is one of my favorite YA series. :)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Who Made You A Princess? (All About Us Series, Book 4)

FaithWords (May 13, 2009)

Plus a Tiffany's Bracelet Giveaway! Go to Camy Tang's Blog and leave a comment on her FIRST Wild Card Tour for Be Strong and Curvaceous, and you will be placed into a drawing for a bracelet that looks similar to the picture below.


Award-winning author Shelley Adina wrote her first teen novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages. Shelley is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She writes books about fun and faith—with a side of glamour. Between books, Shelley loves traveling, playing the piano and Celtic harp, watching movies, and making period costumes.

Visit her book site and her website.

It's All About Us is Book One in the All About Us Series. Book Two, The Fruit of my Lipstick came out in August 2008. Book Three, Be Strong & Curvaceous, came out January 2, 2009. And Book Four, Who Made You a Princess?, came out May 13, 2009.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (May 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446179620
ISBN-13: 978-0446179621


NOTHING SAYS “ALONE” like a wide, sandy beach on the western edge of the continent, with the sun going down in a smear of red and orange. Girlfriends, I am the go-to girl for alone. Or at least, that’s what I used to think. Not anymore, though, because nothing says “alive” like a fire snapping and hissing at your feet, and half a dozen of your BFFs laughing and talking around you.

Like the T-shirt says, life is good.

My name’s Shani Amira Marjorie Hanna, and up until I started going to Spencer Academy in my freshman year, all I wanted to do was get in, scoop as many A’s as I could, and get out. College, yeah. Adulthood. Being the boss of me. Social life? Who cared? I’d treat it the way I’d done in middle school, making my own way and watching people brush by me, all disappearing into good-bye like they were flowing down a river.

Then when I was a junior, I met the girls, and things started to change whether I wanted them to or not. Or maybe it was just me. Doing the changing, I mean.

Now we were all seniors and I was beginning to see that all this “I am an island” stuff was just a bunch of smoke. ’Cuz I was not like the Channel Islands, sitting out there on the hazy horizon. I was so done with all that.

Lissa Mansfield sat on the other side of the fire from me while this adorable Jared Padalecki look-alike named Kaz Griffin sat next to her trying to act like the best friend she thought he was. Lissa needs a smack upside the head, you want my opinion. Either that or someone needs to make a serious play for Kaz to wake her up. But it’s not going to be me. I’ve got cuter fish to fry. Heh. More about that later.

“I can’t believe this is the last weekend of summer vacation,” Carly Aragon moaned for about the fifth time since Kaz lit the fire and we all got comfortable in the sand around it. “It’s gone so fast.”

“That’s because you’ve only been here a week.” I handed her the bag of tortilla chips. “What about me? I’ve been here for a month and I still can’t believe we have to go up to San Francisco on Tuesday.”

“I’m so jealous.” Carly bumped me with her shoulder. “A whole month at Casa Mansfield with your own private beach and everything.” She dipped a handful of chips in a big plastic container of salsa she’d made that morning with fresh tomatoes and cilantro and little bits of—get this—cantaloupe. She made one the other day with carrots in it. I don't know how she comes up with this stuff, but it’s all good. We had a cooler full of food to munch on. No burnt weenies for this crowd. Uh-uh. What we can’t order delivered, Carly can make.

“And to think I could have gone back to Chicago and spent the whole summer throwing parties and trashing the McMansion.” I sighed with regret. “Instead, I had to put up with a month in the Hamptons with the Changs, and then a month out here fighting Lissa for her bathroom.”

“Hey, you could have used one of the other ones,” Lissa protested, trying to keep Kaz from snagging the rest of her turkey-avocado-and-alfalfa-sprouts sandwich.

I grinned at her. Who wanted to walk down the hot sandstone patio to one of the other bathrooms when she, Carly, and I had this beautiful Spanish terrazzo-looking wing of the house to ourselves? Carly and I were in Lissa’s sister’s old room, which looked out on this garden with a fountain and big ferns and grasses and flowering trees. And beyond that was the ocean. It was the kind of place you didn’t want to leave, even to go to the bathroom.

I contrasted it with the freezing wind off Lake Michigan in the winter and the long empty hallways of the seven-million-dollar McMansion on Lake Road, where I always felt like a guest. You know—like you’re welcome but the hosts don’t really know what to do with you. I mean, my mom has told me point-blank, with a kind of embarrassed little laugh, that she can’t imagine what happened. The Pill and her careful preventive measures couldn’t all have failed on the same night.

Organic waste happens. Whatever. The point is, I arrived seventeen years ago and they had to adjust.

I think they love me. My dad always reads my report cards, and he used to take me to blues clubs to listen to the musicians doing sound checks before the doors opened. That was before my mom found out. Then I had to wait until I was twelve, and we went to the early shows, which were never as good as the late ones I snuck into whenever my parents went on one of their trips.

They travel a lot. Dad owns this massive petroleum exploration company, and when she’s not chairing charity boards and organizing fund-raisers, Mom goes with him everywhere, from Alaska to New Zealand. I saw a lot of great shows with whichever member of the staff I could bribe to take me and swear I was sixteen. Keb’ Mo, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Roomful of Blues—I saw them all.

A G-minor chord rippled out over the crackle of the fire, and I smiled a slow smile. My second favorite sound in the world (right after the sound of M&Ms pouring into a dish). On my left, Danyel had pulled out his guitar and tuned it while I was lost in la-la land, listening to the waves come in.

Lissa says there are some things you just know. And somehow, I just knew that I was going to be more to Danyel Johnstone than merely a friend of his friend Kaz’s friend Lissa, if you hear what I’m saying. I was done with being alone, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t stand out from the crowd.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like this crowd. Carly especially—she’s like the sister I would have designed my own self. And Lissa, too, though sometimes I wonder if she can be real. I mean, how can you be blond and tall and rich and wear clothes the way she does, and still be so nice? There has to be a flaw in there somewhere, but if she’s got any, she keeps them under wraps.

Gillian, who we’d see in a couple of days, has really grown on me. I couldn’t stand her at first—she’s one of those people you can’t help but notice. I only hung around her because Carly liked her. But somewhere between her going out with this loser brain trust and then her hooking up with Jeremy Clay, who’s a friend of mine, I got to know her. And staying with her family last Christmas, which could have been massively awkward, was actually fun. The last month in the Hamptons with them was a total blast. The only good thing about leaving was knowing I was going to see the rest of the crew here in Santa Barbara.

The one person I still wasn’t sure about was Mac, aka Lady Lindsay MacPhail, who did an exchange term at school in the spring. Getting to know her is like besieging a castle—which is totally appropriate considering she lives in one. She and Carly are tight, and we all e-mailed and IM-ed like fiends all summer, but I’m still not sure. I mean, she has a lot to deal with right now, with her family and everything. And the likelihood of us seeing each other again is kind of low, so maybe I don’t have to make up my mind about her. Maybe I’ll just let her go the way I let the kids in middle school go.

Danyel began to get serious about bending his notes instead of fingerpicking, and I knew he was about to sing. Oh, man, could the night get any more perfect? Even though we’d probably burn the handmade marshmallows from Williams-Sonoma, tonight capped a summer that had been the best time I’d ever had.

The only thing that would make it perfect would be finding some way to be alone with that man. I hadn’t been here more than a day when Danyel and Kaz had come loping down the beach. I’d taken one look at those eyes and those cheekbones and, okay, a very cut set of abs, and decided here was someone I wanted to know a whole lot better. And I did, now, after a couple of weeks. But soon we’d go off to S. F., and he and Kaz would go back to Pacific High. When we pulled out in Gabe Mansfield’s SUV, I wanted there to be something more between us than an air kiss and a handshake, you know what I mean?

I wanted something to be settled. Neither of us had talked about it, but both of us knew it was there. Unspoken longing is all very well in poetry, but I’m the outspoken type. I like things out there where I can touch them.

In a manner of speaking.

Danyel sat between Kaz and me, cross-legged and bare-chested, looking as comfortable in his surf jams as if he lived in them. Come to think of it, he did live in them. His, Kaz’s, and Lissa’s boards were stuck in the sand behind us. They’d spent most of the afternoon out there on the waves. I tried to keep my eyes on the fire. Not that I didn’t appreciate the view next to me, because trust me, it was fine, but I know a man wants to be appreciated for his talents and his mind.

Danyel’s melody sounded familiar—something Gillian played while we waited for our prayer circles at school to start. Which reminded me . . . I nudged Carly. “You guys going to church tomorrow?”

She nodded and lifted her chin at Lissa to get her attention. “Girl wants to know if we’re going to church.”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Lissa said. “Kaz and his family, too. Last chance of the summer to all go together.”

And where Kaz went, Danyel went. Happy thought.

“You’re not going to bail, are you?” Carly’s brows rose a little.

It’s not like I’m anti-religion or anything. I’m just in the beginning stages of learning about it. Without my friends to tell me stuff, I’d be bumbling around on my own, trying to figure it out. My parents don’t go to church, so I didn’t catch the habit from them. But when she was alive and I was a little girl, my grandma used to take me to the one in her neighborhood across town. I thought it was an adventure, riding the bus instead of being driven in the BMW. And the gospel choir was like nothing I’d ever seen, all waving their arms in the air and singing to raise the roof. I always thought they were trying to deafen God, if they could just get up enough volume.

So I like the music part. Always have. And I’m beginning to see the light on the God part, after what happened last spring. But seeing a glimmer and knowing what to do about it are two different things.

“Of course not.” I gave Carly a look. “We all go together. And we walk, in case no one told you, so plan your shoes carefully.”

“Oh, I will.” She sat back on her hands, an “I so see right through you” smile turning up the corners of her mouth. “And it’s all about the worship, I know.” That smile told me she knew exactly what my motivation was. Part of it, at least. Hey, can you blame me?

The music changed and Danyel’s voice lifted into a lonely blues melody, pouring over Carly’s words like cream. I just melted right there on the spot. Man, could that boy sing.

Blue water, blue sky

Blue day, girl, do you think that I

Don’t see you, yeah I do.

Long sunset, long road,

Long life, girl, but I think you know

What I need, yeah, you do.

I do a little singing my own self, so I know talent when I hear it. And I’d have bet you that month’s allowance that Danyel had composed that one. He segued into the chorus and then the bridge, its rhythms straight out of Mississippi but the tune something new, something that fit the sadness and the hope of the words.

Wait a minute.

Blue day? Long sunset? Long road? As in, a long road to San Francisco?

Whoa. Could Danyel be trying to tell someone something? “You think that I don’t see you”? Well, if that didn’t describe me, I didn’t know what would. Ohmigosh.

Could he be trying to tell me his feelings with a song? Musicians were like that. They couldn’t tell a person something to her face, or they were too shy, or it was just too hard to get out, so they poured it into their music. For them, maybe it was easier to perform something than to get personal with it.

Be cool, girl. Let him finish. Then find a way to tell him you understand—and you want it, too.

The last of the notes blew away on the breeze, and a big comber smashed itself on the sand, making a sound like a kettledrum to finish off the song. I clapped, and the others joined in.

“Did you write that yourself?” Lissa removed a marshmallow from her stick and passed it to him. “It was great.”

Danyel shrugged one shoulder. “Tune’s been bugging me for a while and the words just came to me. You know, like an IM or something.”

Carly laughed, and Kaz’s forehead wrinkled for a second in a frown before he did, too.

I love modesty in a man. With that kind of talent, you couldn’t blame Danyel for thinking he was all that.

Should I say something? The breath backed up in my chest. Say it. You’ll lose the moment. “So who’s it about?” I blurted, then felt myself blush.

“Can’t tell.” His head was bent as he picked a handful of notes and turned them into a little melody. “Some girl, probably.”

“Some girl who’s leaving?” I said, trying for a teasing tone. “Is that a good-bye?”

“Could be.”

I wished I had the guts to come out and ask if he’d written the song for me—for us—but I just couldn’t. Not with everyone sitting there. With one look at Carly, whose eyes held a distinct “What’s up with you?” expression, I lost my nerve and shut up. Which, as any of the girls could tell you, doesn’t happen very often.

Danyel launched into another song—some praise thing that everyone knew but me. And then another, and then a cheesy old John Denver number that at least I knew the words to, and then a bunch of goofy songs half of us had learned at camp when we were kids. And then it was nearly midnight, and Kaz got up and stretched.

He’s a tall guy. He stretches a long way. “I’m running the mixer for the early service tomorrow, so I’ve got to go.”

Danyel got up, and I just stopped my silly self from saying, “No, not yet.” Instead, I watched him sling the guitar over one shoulder and yank his board out of the sand. “Are you going to early service, too?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he said, sounding a little surprised. “I’m in the band, remember?”

Argh! As if I didn’t know. As if I hadn’t sat there three Sundays in a row, watching his hands move on the frets and the light make shadows under his cheekbones.

“I just meant—I see you at the late one when we go. I didn’t know you went to both.” Stutter, bumble. Oh, just stop talking, girl. You’ve been perfectly comfortable talking to him so far. What’s the matter?

“I don’t, usually. But tomorrow they’re doing full band at early service, too. Last one before all the turistas go home. Next week we’ll be back to normal.” He smiled at me. “See you then.”

Was he looking forward to seeing me, or was he just being nice? “I hope so,” I managed.

“Kaz, you coming?”

Kaz bent to the fire and ran a stick through the coals, separating them. “Just let me put this out. Lissa, where’s the bucket?”

“Here.” While I’d been obsessing over Danyel, Lissa had run down to the waterline and filled a gallon pail. You could tell they’d done this about a million times. She poured the water on the fire and it blew a cloud of steam into the air. The orange coals gave it up with a hiss.

I looked up to say something to Danyel about it and saw that he was already fifty feet away, board under his arm like it weighed nothing, heading down the beach to the public lot where he usually parked his Jeep.

I stared down into the coals, wet and dying.

I couldn’t let the night go out like this.

“Danyel, wait!” The sand polished the soles of my bare feet better than the pumice bar at the salon as I ran to catch up with him. A fast glance behind me told me Lissa had stepped up and begun talking to Kaz, giving me a few seconds alone.

I owed her, big time.

“What’s up, ma?” He planted the board and set the guitar case down. “Forget something?”

“Yes,” I blurted. “I forgot to tell you that I think you’re amazing.”

He blinked. “Whoa.” The barest hint of a smile tickled the corners of his lips.

I might not get another chance as good as this one. I rushed on, the words crowding my mouth in their hurry to get out. “I know there’s something going on here and we’re all leaving on Tuesday and I need to know if you—if you feel the same way.”

“About . . . ?”

“About me. As I feel about you.”

He put both hands on his hips and gazed down at the sand. “Oh.”

Cold engulfed me, as if I’d just plunged face-first into the dark waves twenty feet away. “Oh,” I echoed. “Never mind. I guess I got it wrong.” I stepped back. “Forget about it. No harm done.”

“No, Shani, wait—”

But I didn’t want to hear the “we can still be friends” speech. I didn’t want to hear anything except the wind in my ears as I ran back to the safety of my friends.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

City of the Dead by T.L. Higley

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

City of the Dead (Seven Wonders Series)

B&H Books (March 1, 2009)


From her earliest childhood, there was nothing Tracy loved better than stepping into another world between the pages of a book. From dragons and knights, to the wonders of Narnia, that passion has never abated, and to Tracy, opening any novel is like stepping again through the wardrobe, into the thrilling unknown. With every book she writes, she wants to open a door like that, and invite readers to be transported with her into a place that captivates. She has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel and Jordan to research her novels, and looks forward to more travel as the Seven Wonders series continues. It’s her hope that in escaping to the past with her, readers will feel they’ve walked through desert sands, explored ancient ruins, and met with the Redeeming God who is sovereign over the entire drama of human history.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (March 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805447318
ISBN-13: 978-0805447316



In my dreams, it is often I who kills Amunet. Other nights it is Khufu, in one of his mad rages. And at other times it is a great mystery, destined to remain unknown long after the ka of each of us has crossed to the west.

Tonight, as I lay abed, my dreams reveal all the truth that I know.

Merit is there, like a beautiful lotus flower among the papyrus reeds.

“Hemi,” she whispers, using the shortened form of my name in the familiar way I long for. “We should join the others.”

The tufts of reeds that spring from the marsh’s edge wave around us, higher than our heads, our private thicket.

“They are occupied with the hunt,” I say.

A cloud of birds rises from the marsh in that moment, squawking their protest at being disturbed. Merit turns her head to the noise and I study the line of her jaw, the long curls that wave across her ear. I pull her close, my arms around her waist.

Her body is stiff at first, then melts against mine.

“Hemi, you must let me go.”

Some nights in my dreams I am a better man.

“Merit.” I bury my face in her hair, breathe in the spicy scent of her. “I cannot.”

I pull her into my kiss.

She resists. She pushes me away and her eyes flash accusation, but something else as well. Sorrow. Longing.

I reach for her again, wrapping my fingers around her wrist. She twists away from my grasp. I do not know what I might have done, but there is fear in her eyes. By the gods, I wish I could forget that fear.

She runs. What else could she do?

She runs along the old river bed, not yet swollen with the year’s Inundation, stagnant and marshy. She disappears among the papyrus. The sky is low and gray, an evil portent.

My anger roots me to the ground for several moments, but then the potential danger propels me to follow.

“Merit,” I call. “Come back. I am sorry!”

I weave slowly among the reeds, searching for the white flash of her dress, the bronze of her skin.

“Merit, it is not safe!”

Anger dissolves into concern. I cannot find her.

In the way of dreams, my feet are unnaturally heavy, as though I fight through alluvial mud to reach her. The first weighted drops fall from an unearthly sky.

And then she is there, at the base of the reeds. White dress dirtied, head turned unnaturally. Face in the water. My heart clutches in my chest. I lurch forward. Drop to my knees in the marsh mud. Push away the reeds. Reach for her.

It is not Merit.

It is Amunet.

“Amunet!” I wipe the mud and water from her face and shake her. Her eyes are open yet unfocused.

I am less of a man because, in that moment, I feel relief.

Relief that it is not Merit.

But what has happened to Amunet? Khufu insisted that our royal hunting party split apart to raise the birds, but we all knew that he wanted to be with Amunet. Now she is alone, and she has crossed to the west.

As I hold her lifeless body in my arms, I feel the great weight of choice fall upon my shoulders. The rain pours through an evil gash in the clouds.

Khufu is my friend. He is my cousin. He will soon wear the Double Crown of the Two Lands of Upper and Lower Egypt. And when Khufu is Pharaoh, I will be his grand vizier.

But it would seem that I hold our future in my hands now, as surely as I hold this girl’s body.

I lower Amunet to the mud again and awake, panting and sweating, in my bed. I roll from the mat, scramble for a pot, and retch. It is not the first time.

The sunlight is already burning through the high window in my bedchamber.

The past is gone. There is only the future.

And I have a pyramid to build.


In the fifth year of Khufu, the Golden Horus, Great in Victories, Chosen of Ra, as the pyramid rose in the desert like a burning torch to the sun god himself, I realized my mistake and knew that I had brought disorder.

“Foolishness!” Khons slapped a stone-roughened hand on the papyri unrolled on the basalt-black slab before us, and turned his back on the well-ordered charts to study the workforce on the plateau.

I refused to follow his gaze. Behind me, I knew, eight thousand men toiled, dragging quarry stones up ramps that snaked around my half-finished pyramid, and levering them into beautiful precision. Below them, intersecting lines of men advanced with the rhythm of drumbeats. They worked quickly but never fast enough.

My voice took on a hard edge. “Perhaps, Khons, if you spent more time listening and less blustering—”

“You speak to me of time?” The Overseer of Quarries whirled to face me, and the muscles in his jaw twitched like a donkey’s flank when a fly irritates. “Do you have any idea what these changes mean?” He waved a hand over my plans. “You were a naked baboon at Neferma’at’s knee when he and I were building the pyramids at Saqqara!”

This insult was well-worn, and I was sick of it. I stepped up to him, close enough to map every vein in his forehead. The desert air between us stilled with the tension. “You forget yourself, Khons. I may not be your elder, but I am grand vizier.”

“My good men,” Ded’e interrupted, his voice dripping honey as he smoothed long fingers over the soft papyrus. “Let us not quarrel like harem women over a simple change of design.”

“Simple!” Khons snorted. “Perhaps for you. Your farmers and bakers care not where Pharaoh’s burial chamber is located. But I will need to rework all the numbers for the Giza quarry. The timeline for the Aswan granite will be in chaos.” Khons turned on me. “The plans for the queen’s pyramid are later than grain in a drought year. A project of this magnitude must run like marble over the rollers. A change like this—you’re hurling a chunk of limestone into the Nile, and there will be ripples. Other deadlines will be missed—”

I held up a hand and waited to respond. I preferred to handle Khons and his fits of metaphor by giving us both time to cool. The sun hammered down on upon the building site, and I looked away, past the sands of death, toward the life-giving harbor and the fertile plain beyond. This year’s Inundation had not yet crested, but already the Nile’s green waters had swelled to the border of last year’s floodplain. When the waters receded in three months, leaving behind their rich silt deposits, the land would be black and fertile and planting would commence.

“Three months,” I said. In three months, most of my workforce would return to their farms to plant and till, leaving my pyramid unfinished, dependent on me to make it whole.

Khons grunted. “Exactly. No time for changes.”

Ded’e scanned the plateau, his fingers skimming his forehead to block the glare, though he had applied a careful line of kohl beneath his eyes today. “Where is Mentu? Did you not send a message, Hemiunu?”

I looked toward the workmen’s village, too far to make out anyone approaching by the road. Mentu-hotep also served as one of my chief overseers. These three answered directly to me, and under them commanded fifty supervisors, who in turn organized the twelve-thousand-man force. Nothing of this scale had ever been undertaken in the history of the Two Lands. In the history of man. We were building the Great Pyramid, the Horizon of the Pharaoh Khufu. A thousand years, nay, ten thousand years from now, my pyramid would still stand. And though a tomb for Pharaoh, it would also bear my name. A legacy in stone.

“Perhaps he thinks he can do as he wishes,” Khons said.

I ignored his petty implication that I played favorites among my staff. “Perhaps he is slow in getting started today.” I jabbed a finger at the plans again. “Look, Khons, the burial chamber’s relocation will mean that the inner core will require less stone, not more. I’ve redesigned the plans to show the king’s chamber beginning on Course Fifty. Between the corbelled ascending corridor, the burial chamber, five courses high, and the five relieving chambers that will be necessary above it, we will save 8,242 blocks.”

“Exactly 8,242? Are you certain?” De’de snorted. “I think you must stay up all night solving equations, eh, Hemi?”

I inclined my head to the pyramid, now one-fourth its finished height. “Look at it, De’de. See the way the sides angle at a setback of exactly 11:14. Look at the platform, level to an error less than the span of your little finger.” I turned on him. “Do you think such beauty happens by chance? No, it requires constant attention from one who would rather lose sleep than see it falter.”

“It’s blasphemy.” Khons’s voice was low. It was unwise to speak thus of the Favored One.

I exhaled and we hung over the plans, heads together. Khons smelled of sweat and dust, and sand caked the outer rim of his ear.

“It is for the best, Khons. You will see.”

If blasphemy were involved it was my doing and not Khufu’s? I had engineered the raising of the burial chamber above ground and, along with it, Khufu’s role as the earthly incarnation of the god Ra. It was for the good of Egypt, and now it must be carried forward. Hesitation, indecision—these were for weak men.

“Let the priests argue about religious matters,” I said. “I am a builder.”

Ded’e laughed. “Yes, you are like the pyramid, Hemi. All sharp angles and unforgiving measurements.”

I blinked at the observation, then smiled as though it pleased me.

Khons opened his mouth, no doubt to argue, but a shout from the worksite stopped him. We three turned to the pyramid, and I ground my teeth to see the workgangs falter in their measured march up the ramps. Some disorder near the top drew the attention of all. I squinted against the bright blue sky but saw only the brown figures of the workforce covering the stone.

“Cursed Mentu. Where is he?” Khons asked the question this time.

As Overseer for Operations, Mentu took charge of problems on the line. In his absence, I now stalked toward the site.

The Green Sea Gang had halted on the east-face ramp, their draglines still braced over their bare shoulders. Even from thirty cubits below I could see the ropy muscles stand out on the backs of a hundred men as they strained to hold the thirty-thousand-deben-weight block attached to the line. Their white skirts of this morning had long since tanned with dust, and their skin shone with afternoon sweat.

“Sokkwi! Get your men moving forward!” I shouted to the Green Sea Gang supervisor who should have been at the top.

There was no reply, so I strode up the ramp myself, multiplying in my mind the minutes of delay by the stones not raised. The workday might need extending.

Halfway up the rubble ramp, a scream like that of an antelope skewered by a hunter’s arrow ripped the air. I paused only a moment, the men’s eyes on me, then took to the rope-lashed ladder that leaned against the pyramid’s side. I felt the acacia wood strain under the pounding of my feet, and slowed only enough for safety. The ladder stretched to the next circuit of the ramp, and I scrambled from it, chest heaving, and sprinted through the double-line of laborers that snaked around the final ramp. Here the pyramid came to its end. Still so much to build.

Sokkwi, the gang supervisor, had his back to me when I reached the top. Several others clustered around him, bent to something on the stone. Chisels and drills lay scattered about.

“What is it? What’s happened?” The dry heat had stolen my breath, and the words panted out.

They broke apart to reveal a laborer, no more than eighteen years, on the ground, one leg pinned by a block half set in place. The boy’s eyes locked onto mine, as if to beg for mercy. “Move the stone!” I shouted to Sokkwi.

He scratched his chin. “It’s no good. The stone’s been dropped. We have nothing to—”

I jumped into the space open for the next stone, gripped the rising joint of the block that pinned the boy and yelled to a worker, larger than most. “You there! Help me slide this stone!”

He bent to thrust a shoulder against the stone. We strained against it like locusts pushing against a mountain. Sokkwi laid a hand upon my shoulder.

I rested a moment, and he inclined his head to the boy’s leg. Flesh had been torn down to muscle and bone. I reached for something to steady myself, but there was nothing at this height. The sight of blood, a weakness I had known since my youth, threatened to overcome me. I felt a warmth in my face and neck. I breathed slowly through my nose. No good for the men to see you swoon.

I knelt and placed a hand on the boy’s head, then spoke to Sokkwi. “How did this happen?”

He shrugged. “First time on the line.” He worked at something in his teeth with his tongue. “Doesn’t know the angles, I suppose.” Another shrug.

“What was he doing at the top then?” I searched the work area and the ramp below me again for Mentu. Anger churned my stomach.

The supervisor sighed and picked at his teeth with a fingernail. “Don’t ask me. I make sure the blocks climb those ramps and settle into place. That is all I do.”

How had Mentu had allowed this disaster? Justice, truth, and divine order—the ma’at—made Egypt great and made a man great. I did not like to see ma’at disturbed.

On the ramp, a woman pushed past the workers, shoving them aside in her haste to reach the top. She gained the flat area where we stood and paused, her breath huffing out in dry gasps. In her hands she held two jars, brimming with enough barley beer to allow the boy to feel fierce anger rather than beg for his own death. The surgeon came behind, readying his saw. The boy had a chance at life if the leg ended in a stump. Allowed to fester, the injury would surely kill him.

I masked my faintness with my anger and spun away.

“Mentu!” My yell carried past the lines below me, down into the desert below, perhaps to the quarry beyond. He should never have allowed so inexperienced a boy to place stones. Where had he been this morning when the gangs formed teams?

The men nearby were silent, but the work down on the plateau continued, heedless of the boy’s pain. The rhythmic ring of chisel on quarry stone punctuated the collective grunts of the quarry men, their chorus drifting across the desert, but Mentu did not answer the call.

Was he still in his bed? Mentu and I had spent last evening pouring wine and reminiscing late into the night about the days of our youth. Some of them anyway. Always one story never retold.

Another scream behind me. That woman had best get to pouring the barley beer. I could do nothing more here. I moved through the line of men, noting their nods of approval for the effort I’d made on behalf of one of their own.

When I reached the base and turned back toward the flat-topped black basalt stone where I conferred with Khons and Ded’e, I saw that another had joined them. My brother.

I slowed my steps, to allow that part of my heart to harden like mudbricks in the sun, then pushed forward.

They laughed together as I approached, the easy laugh of men comfortable with one another. My older brother leaned against the stone, his arms crossed in front of him. He stood upright when he saw me.

“Ahmose,” I said with a slight nod. “What brings you to the site?”

His smile turned to a smirk. “Just wanted to see how the project proceeds.”

“Hmm.” I focused my attention once more on the plans. The wind grabbed at the edges of the papyrus, and I used a stone cubit rod, thicker than my thumb, to weight it. “The three of us must recalculate stone transfer rates—”

“Khons seems to believe your changes are going to sink the project,” Ahmose said. He smiled, his perfect teeth gleaming against his dark skin.

The gods had favored Ahmose with beauty, charm, and a pleasing manner that made him well loved among the court. But I had been blessed with a strong mind and a stronger will. And I was grand vizier.

I lifted my eyes once more to the pyramid rising in perfect symmetry against the blue sky, and the thousands of men at my command. “The Horizon of Khufu will look down upon your children’s grandchildren, Ahmose,” I said. I leaned over my charts and braced my fingertips on the stone. “When you have long since sailed to the west, still it will stand.”

He bent beside me, his breath in my ear. “You always did believe you could do anything. Get away with anything.”

The animosity in his voice stiffened my shoulders.

“Khons, Ded’e, if you will.” I gestured to the charts. Khons snorted and clomped to my side. And Ded’e draped his forearms across the papyrus.

“It must be gratifying,” Ahmose whispered, “to command men so much more experienced than yourself.”

I turned on him, my smile tight. “And it must be disheartening to see your younger brother excel while you languish in a job bestowed only out of pity—”

A boy appeared, sparing me the indignity of exchanging blows with my brother. His sidelock identified him as a young prince, and I recognized him as the youngest of Henutsen, one of Khufu’s lesser wives.

“His Majesty Khufu, the king, Horus,” the boy said, “the strong bull, beloved by the goddess of truth—”

“Yes, yes. Life, Health, Strength!” I barked. “What does Khufu want?” I was in no mood for the string of titles.

The boy’s eyes widened and he dragged a foot through the sand. “My father commands the immediate presence of Grand Vizier Hemiunu before the throne.”

“Did he give a reason?”

The prince pulled on his lower lip. “He is very angry today.”

“Very well.” I waved him off and turned to Khons and Ded’e, rubbing the tension from my forehead. “We will continue later.”

The two overseers made their escape before Ahmose and I had a chance to go at it again. I flicked a glance in his direction, then rolled up my charts, keeping my breathing even.

Behind me Ahmose said, “Perhaps Khufu has finally seen his error in appointing you vizier.” Like a sharp poke in the kidneys when our mother wasn’t watching.

“Excuse me, Ahmose.” I pushed past him, my hands full of charts. “I have an important meeting.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

So Many Giveaways!!!!

I have found several really great giveaways that I think you will want to get in on.


First there is an amazing Eureka Tent Giveaway at
The Dirty Shirt. My husband and I have been talking about going camping, and this would be unreal! Be sure to check out Eureka's website too here: Eureka. Giveaway Ends 6/1

When you finish trying for that fabulous Eureka Tent Giveaway check out the other amazing giveaway at
The Dirty Shirt. My husband is a total techie and he would plotz over this Seagate FreeAgent Theater giveaway! What a great gift for Dad! Giveaway Ends 6/3

Mom Knows It All has a great Good Cookbook Giveaway. I am always on the hunt for some new recipes. It gets hard trying to come up with new ways to cook chicken! ;) Definitely stop by for your chance! Ends 5/30

I just stumbled on Not So Blog's Experimental Mommy, and am sooooo glad I did. She is giving away a Keurig Platinum Brewer! Ahhhh the very idea of a freshly brewed single cup of coffee is soooo decadent! Pluse they have some great flavors. For me it will be as much of a treat as hitting the salon! Check it out at
The Not-So-Blog's Experimental Mommy and check the product out at Keurig. Giveaway Ends June 14.

Jo-Jo Loves to Read is hosting an amazing Asian Heritage book giveaway. My mom would flip out if I won this so I am going for it for her. :) I know she'll share! So if you want an incredible collection get on over to Jo-Jo's now! Giveaway ends May 31

Jo-Jo Loves to Read also has an impressive Mother's Day giveaway. Mother's day may be over, but who wouldn't want to share the love with some beautiful reads? This giveaway also ends on May 31!

Definitely check out the great giveaways Luanne is having at A Bookworm's World. There is quite a list!
Mix, Shake, Stir by Danny Meyer. Ahhhh time for some fun summer cocktails and mocktails! Ends June 4 at 6pm EST
The G-Free Diet by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. I cannot tell you how much I want to win this one. My husband seems to be really having some problems lately with wheat. Ends May 29 at 6pm EST
Becoming Beauty by Dimitri James Okay...the main thing that is drawing me is 50 ways to beat acne for good. I am not the breakout queen, but I am 42 and over it! Ends June 6 at 6pm EST.
Holly's Inbox - Holly Denham - There is a great guest post along with Luanne's giveaway so be sure to check it out. You will also want to check out Luanne's review Giveaway Ends June 9 at 6PM EST

Lori's Reading Corner is a blog that has been around, and I JUST found. I have to learn to use stumble someday, but so far, I stumble pretty good on my own. Anyway, Lori is giving away a copy of Still Life by Joy Fielding. She is one of my old faves who has never disappointed me. Get your chance while you can. This ends May 27!

Okay that is all for today! Hope you find something that gets your juices flowin! :)

Lucy's Perfect Summer Author Nancy Rue

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Lucy's Perfect Summer (A Lucy Novel)

Zonderkidz (May 1, 2009)


Nancy Rue has written over 100 books for girls, is the editor of the FaithGirlz Bible, and is a popular speaker and radio guest with her expertise in tween issues. She and husband Jim have raised a daughter of their own and now live in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $7.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714524
ISBN-13: 978-0310714521


Why My Life Is Just About Perfect

School is out for the summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lucy would have made more exclamation points, but Lollipop, her pot-bellied kitty, was watching from the windowsill above the bed, her black head bobbing with each stroke and dot. She’d be pouncing in a second.

Lucy protected the Book of Lists with her other arm and wrote…

2. Aunt Karen is taking her vacation to some island so she won’t be coming HERE for a while. YES!!

3. We have a soccer game in two weeks, thanks to Coach Auggy. A for-REAL game, with a whole other team, not just our team split up, which is always lame since we only have 8 players to begin with. I cannot WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lollipop twitched an ear.

“Forget about it,” Lucy said to her. She’d only just discovered the joy of making exclamation points from Veronica. Veronica was a girly-girl, but she did have her good points. Lucy snickered. “Good points, Lolli. Get it?”

Lollipop apparently did not, or else she didn’t care. She tucked her paws under her on the tile sill and blinked her eyes into a nap. Lucy slipped a few more exclamation marks in before she continued.

I get to hang out with J.J. and Dusty and Veronica and Mora any time I want, not just at lunch or soccer practice or church. Okay, so I already got to hang out with them a lot before summer, but now it’s like ANY time, and that’s perfect. Except we’re still stuck with Januarie. If she weren’t J.J.’s little sister we could just ditch her, but she needs a good influence. We’re a good influence. Well, maybe not Mora so much.
Lucy glanced at her bedroom door to make sure it was all the way shut. The Book of Lists was private and everybody else in the house—Dad and Inez the housekeeper nanny and her granddaughter Mora—knew to keep their noses out of it. Still, she always had to decide whether it was worth risking discovery to write down what she really, really thought.

“What do you say about it, Lolli?” she said.

There was an answering purr, though Lucy was pretty sure that was more about Lollipop dreaming of getting the other three cats’ food before they did than it was about agreeing with her. She went for it anyway.

Januarie still thinks Mora is the next best thing to Hannah Montana. Even though Mora got her in way a lot of trouble not that long ago she would probably give a whole bag of gummy bears just to have Mora paint her toenails. And that’s saying a lot. Januarie loves gummy bears. And Snickers bars. And those chocolate soccer balls Claudia sells down at the candy and flower shop. Which reminds me—

5. We can go buy candy in the middle of the day, or have breakfast at Pasco’s café or take picnics to OUR soccer field, because, guess what? It’s SUMMER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Something black whipped across the page, and Lucy’s pen flew into space, landing with a smack against the blue-and-yellow toy chest. Knocking down the ruler Lucy always kept there to hold it open, in case Lollipop needed to jump in and hide, the lid slapped shut, and Lolli sprang into an upside down-U before she leaped after it and skidded across the top with her claws bared. She glared indignantly at Lucy.

“You did it, Simplehead,” Lucy said. “Wait! I’ll open it for you.” But before she could even scramble off the bed, Lolli dove under it. A squalling fight ensued with Artemis Hamm, who had obviously been sleeping beneath the mattress.

“Break it up, you two!” Lucy said. But she didn’t dare stick her hand under there. One of them would eventually come out with a mouth full of the other one’s fur and it would be over.

“What’s going on in there?” said a voice on the other side of the door.

Lucy stuck the Book of Lists under her pillow. It was Dad, who couldn’t see anyway, but she always felt better having her secrets well hidden when other people were in the room.

“Come on in—if you dare,” Lucy said.

She heard Dad’s sandpapery chuckle before he stuck his face in. She cocked her head at him, her ponytail sliding over her ear. “What happened to your hair?”

He ran a hand over salt-and-pepper fuzz as he edged into the room. “I just got my summer ‘doo down at the Casa Bonita. Is it that bad?”

“No. It’s actually kinda cool.”

“What do I look like?”

“Like—did you ever see one of those movies about the Navy SEAL team? You know…before?”


“You look like one of those guys.”

“Is that good?”

“That’s way good.”

Dad smiled the smile that made a room fill up with sunlight. She could have told him he looked like a rock star and he wouldn’t have known whether she was telling the truth or not. But she liked for the smiles to be real, and she did think her dad was handsome. Even with eyes that sometimes darted around like they didn’t know where to land.

He made his way to the rocking chair and eased into it. It would be hard for anybody who didn’t know to tell he was blind when he moved around in their house, as long as Lucy kept things exactly where they were supposed to be. She leaned over and picked up her soccer ball, just escaping a black-and-brown paw that shot from the hem of the bedspread.

“Keep your fight to yourselves,” Lucy said.

“What’s that about?”

“Exclamation points! It’s a long story.”

“Do I want to hear it?”

“No,” Lucy said. Not only because she didn’t want to tell it, but because she could see in the sharp way Dad’s chin looked that he hadn’t come in just to chat about cat fights. She hugged her soccer ball.

“Okay, what?” she said. “Is something wrong? Something’s wrong, huh?”

“Did I say that?”

“Aunt Karen’s coming, isn’t she? Man! I thought she was going out in the ocean someplace and we were going to have a peaceful summer.” She dumped the ball on the floor on the other side of the bed.

Dad’s smile flickered back in. “What makes you think I was going to talk about Aunt Karen?”

“Because she’s, like, almost always the reason you look all serious and heavy.”

“You get to be more like your mother every day, Champ. You read me like a book.”

“Then I’m right.” There went her perfect summer. She was going to have to redo that list.

“But you’re in the wrong chapter this time,” Dad said. “I’m serious, but it isn’t about Aunt Karen. Last I heard, she was headed for St. Thomas.”

“He’s going to need to be a saint to put up with her.”

Dad chuckled. “St. Thomas is an island, Luc’.”

“Oh.” She was doing better in school now that Coach Auggy was her teacher, but they hadn’t done that much geography this year.

“I just want to put this out there before Inez gets here.”

His voice was somber again, but Lucy relaxed against her pillows. If this wasn’t about Aunt Karen coming here wanting to take Lucy home with her for the summer, how bad could it be?

“So, you know Inez will be coming for all day, five days a week.”

“Right and that’s cool. We get along good now.” Lucy felt generous. “I don’t even mind Mora that much any more.”

“Good, because I’ve asked her if she’d be okay with Mr. Auggy also coming in to do a little home-schooling with you.”

Lucy shot up like one of her own freaked-out kitties.

“School?” she said. “In the summer?”

Dad winced like her voice was hurting his ears. “Just for a few hours a day, and not on Fridays.”

“Dad, hello! This is summer time. I have a TON of work to do to get ready for the soccer games if I want anybody from the Olympic Development Program to even look at me. School work?” She hit her forehead with the heel of her hand. “Why?”

“You’ve improved a hundred per cent since Mr. Auggy started teaching your class—”

“Yeah, so why are you punishing me by making me do more work? I don’t get it.”

She wished she could make exclamation points with her voice.

“You’ll get it if you let me finish.”

Dad’s voice had no punctuation marks at all, except a period, which meant, ‘Hush up before you get yourself in trouble.’ Lucy gnawed at her lower lip. She was glad for once that he couldn’t see the look on her face.

“You ended the school year in good shape, but Champ, you were behind before that. That means you’re still going to start middle school a few steps back.”

“I’ll catch up, Dad, I promise! I’ll study, like, ten hours a day when school starts again and I’ll do all my homework.”

Dad closed his eyes and got still. That meant he was waiting for her to be done so he could go on with what he was going to say as if she hadn’t said a word. She was in pointless territory. It made her want to crawl under the bed and start up the cat fight again. It seemed to work for them when they were frustrated.

“Your middle school teachers are going to expect your skills to be seventh-grade level,” Dad said. “Right now, Mr. Auggy says they’re about mid-sixth, which is great considering what they were in January.”

If she had been Mora, she would have been rolling her eyes by now. What was the point in telling her how wonderful she was when she was going to have to do what she didn’t want to do anyway?

“So here’s the deal,” Dad said.

Lucy sighed. “It’s only a deal if both people agree to it, Dad.”

“You haven’t even heard it yet.”

She stifled a “whatever,” which was sure to get her grounded for a least a week of her already dwindling summer.

“You’ll work with Mr. Auggy until you get your reading up to seventh-grade level. That could take all summer, or it could take a couple of weeks. That’s up to you.”

Lucy looked at him sharply. “What if I get it there in three days?”

“Then you’re done. We’ll check it periodically, of course, to make sure it stays there.”

“It will,” Lucy said. But she hoped her outside voice sounded more sure than the one that was screaming inside her brain: You can’t do this! What are you thinking?

There weren’t enough exclamation points in the world to end that sentence.

This was not one of my reads, but do be sure to check out the reviews from other FIRST members.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Winners!!! Testimony by Anita Shreve and Beach Trip by Cathy Holton

A BIG thanks to Hachette Publishing Group for the opportunity to giveaway Testimony by Anita Shreve and to author Cathy Holton for the opportunity to read (review up next week) and giveaway Beach Trip. Now onto the winners!!!!!


This week's winner of Beach Trip by Cathy Holton is:

Crystal said...
I love laying out in the backyard or at the beach with a book in hand.crystalfulcher*at*
May 5, 2009 9:47 AM

Remember there is one more winner to come next week!

Dixie said...
One thing I do miss about high school is the art class-our teacher was bohemian and so cool-she encouraged everyone to express themselves.southrngal(at)gmail(dot)com
May 23, 2009 2:56 PM

Shauna said...
Please count me in! I would l♥ve to read this book! Thanks for the chance!
May 15, 2009 5:39 PM

gaby317 said...
I miss my friends and the sense that we had so much time to figure out what we should be doing!Thank you - pls enter me in the contestmrolapus AT yahoo DOT com
May 6, 2009 7:58 PM

rlgrady said...
I miss hanging out with my friends, and skipping school[gasp]. Now I would freak out if my kids did that. Those were the days!rlgrady[at]yahoo[dot]com
May 5, 2009 1:45 PM

allisonmariecat said...
I tweeted the giveaway, but I'm new to Twitter and I don't know how to link to a specific tweet. My username is allisonmariecat there, too.Thanks so much for the giveaway!
April 28, 2009 7:43 AM

Emails are on their way.

Sunday Stealing - The A to Z Meme

Welcome back to Sunday Stealing. Sunday Stealing originated on WTIT: The Blog authored by Bud Weiser. Here we will steal all types of memes from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent memes. You may have heard of the expression, “honor amongst thieves”. In that age-old tradition, we also have our rules. First, we always credit the blog that we stole it from and we will “fess up” to the blog owner where we stole the meme. We also provide a link to the victim's post. (It's our way of saying "Thanks!") We do sometimes edit the original meme, usually to make it more relevant to our global players, to challenge our players, sometimes to select that meme's best questions, or simply to make it less repetitive from either this new meme or recently asked questions from a prior featured meme. Let's go!

Today we ripped this meme off a blogger named Eothian MacLir from the blog Hard Luck Tour. He doesn't not give us a hint as to where he got it. But, it was probably stolen there as well. So, of course, that will be as far as we go. Tracing back our theft's thieves might take some time. Link back to us at Sunday Stealing!Cheers to all us thieves!

• Are you available? Talk to my agent.
• What is your age? Seriously I am shocked that Age is just thrown in here like that. I am 42 and pretty proud of it. :)
• What annoys you? I get annoyed by people throwing in questions about my age at every turn. Drives me batty, but not as batty as people who walk at a snails pace. I think I am a hyperactive walker. I think it is from working for so many years at night clubs where I had to get a drink order to someone before they strolled off. :)

• Do you know anyone named Billy?
Well, my son's father is named Bill. Does that count?
• When is your birthday? May 16. I turned 42. This was actually pretty okay other than being sick.
• Who is your best friend? That would be my wonderful husband, Scott who is laying next to me as I type this. He rocks my socks.

• What's your favorite candy?
Any kind of chocolate substance will do. I am very easy when it comes to candy.
• Crush? Crush what? The drink? Never really enjoyed it.
• When was the last time you cried? I hate to admit this, but I got all misty eyed two days ago when I attended my son Alex's promotion ceremony. He is entering the wonderful world of high school. Who wouldn't cry at that? I still remember the horror of high school!

• Do you daydream?
Hmmmmmm Johnny Depp.....I'm sorry, what?
• What's your favorite kind of dog? Any kind of BIG dog! I like a dog that makes even the owner a little nervous!
• What day of the week is it? Saturday (but I have to start early because this is a freaking alphabet meme and not even just a simple 26 letter one either but a three parter for each letter. DANG!

• How do you like your eggs?
Over medium with a side of potatoes or I don't want them. :)
• Have you ever been in the emergency room? Yes. It was not a good experience. I can tell you that I swore a blue streak at the doctor there. BLUE STREAK. I was having a miscarriage and he was an ass.
• Ever pet an elephant? BoldEver pet an elephant? Certainly not...those guys are huge! I have also seen too many go street rat crazy on television!

• Do you use fly swatters?
Yes, my husband and my son.
• Have you ever used a foghorn? Well yes, but only when I was sailing the briney deep while in search of the great white...oh
• Is there a fan in your room? Yes, my husband is my greatest fan! *wink*

• Do you chew gum?
Yes, and I am obsessed with it. My home has about 10 packages of gum in it as we speak.
• Do you like gummy candies? I really like Haribo Gummy Bears. I never did when I was a kid, but I will eat a few here and there.
• Do you like gory movies? Only if it is gory for the sake of gratuituous gore. The more the better. Actually not really. I just enjoy a good horror film. If it is gory it works for me, but I don't have to have blood and guts to enjoy it.

• How are you?
Fine thank you, and how are you?
• What's your height? Okay you already got my age. Forget the height. I actually don't really know. I think I am shrinking or something.
• What color is your hair? Any color I want it to be. Kind of light brownish blond.

• What's your favorite ice cream?
This is a toss up between Cherry Garcia and Coffee Heath Bar Crunch from Ben and Jerry's.
• Have you ever ice skated? I did many years ago. I was shocked at how good I was, but it was the 80s and everyone wore high heels so the balance was pretty easy.
• Ever been in an igloo? Not yet, and I hope not ever. Well, unless it is like an organ of mine or something in an igloo cooler. I am cool with that.

• What's your favorite Jelly Bean?
Any kind that doesn't taste like popcorn.
• Have you ever heard a really hilarious joke? I am not even sure what I am supposed to say here. Of course I have. At least I must have thought so at one point in time. I laugh more at a funny story than a joke at this point.
• Do you wear jewelry? Not much since my home was broken into.

• Who do you want to kill?
I don't want to kill anyone. Seriously, that is a pretty wrong question.
• Have you ever flown a kite? Yes. Now you go fly one! Sorry.
• Do you think kangaroos are cute? Every day I wax poetic about their cuteness.

• Are you laidback?
Yes I am and probably more than I should be.
• Lions or Tigers? Tigers. They are great swimmers.
• Do you like black licorice? Black licorice is gross. IMO.

• Favorite movie as a kid?
Gone With The Wind
• Ever shopped at Moosejaw? Nope. Is that a store, a city, or some trading post in Canada?
• Favorite store at the mall? VS

• Do you have a nickname?
Baby (husband)
• Whats your favorite number? 42
• Do you prefer night or day? Night. Always have.

• What's your one wish?
Still waiting on that BIG lottery win.
• Are you an only child? Nope
• Do you like the color orange? What's not to like? I wont be painting my house with it, but it is better than that slimey greenish baby poo color.

• What are you most paranoid about?
Spiders walking on my while I sleep.
• Piercings? Several that I don't even put anything in any more.
• Do you know anyone named Penelope? Nope. But I knew a girl who use to call her period cousin Penelope.

• Are you quick to judge people?
Do you realize there are six points to answer here? I'm judging you very harshly right now.
• Do you like Quaker Oats? Oh yesssss it has worked wonders for my cholesterol. Nothing like a big heaping bowl of paste in the morning. :)
• Know anyone that makes quilts? One of my coworkers is big into quilting. I think I may do it one day.
• Do you think you're always right? Sadly, I have learned that I am not. Don't think I am too happy about it either, but admitting you can be wrong sure takes the pressure off!
• Do you watch reality TV? I do. What of it?
• Reason to cry? There are millions. A good punch in the nose will usually bring on tears for a good reason.

• Do you prefer sun or rain?
• Do you like snow? I am into decorative snow. The kind that comes one day and leaves two days later.
• What's your favorite season? Spring. I am into picnics.

• time is it?
Time is it? What are you saying here?
• What time did you wake up? I woke up at 5am and went right back to sleep.

• Can you ride a unicycle?
• Do you know anyone with a unibrow? Yes
• Uncles do you have? Yes I do have uncles. Really short handing it now aren't you?

• What’s the worst vegetable?
I don't know. Okra?
• Did you ever watch Veggie Tales? When my son was little I did.
• Ever considered being vegan? No. I am definitely a meat eater. I don't eat like massive amounts, but I do want it on occasion.

• What's your worst habit?
Being snarky.
• Do you like water rides? I love any kind of water ride.
• Ever been inside a windmill? NOPE.

• Have you ever had an x-ray?
• Ever used a Xerox machine? Back in college. Hurry eyes are blurring.

• Do you like the color yellow?
• What year were you born in? No really, I am not going into this age thing again.
• Do you yell when you're angry? I get very even when I am angry.

• Do you believe in the zodiac?
I haven't read my horoscope in probably five years.
• What's your zodiac sign? I don't think you should be able to use the same Z word. Sorry...I am getting cranky.
• When was the last time you went to the zoo? When my son was about 10 years old. We went to the Roger Williams Park Zoo.

Wow THAT was painful. If anyone sticks through all these answers, I am extremely impressed! Happy Sunday!